Home Health 4 Important Rights Every Sexual Assault Survivor Needs To Have

4 Important Rights Every Sexual Assault Survivor Needs To Have

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I’m a sexual assault survivor. When I came forward about my assault, I thought that others would hear me, protect me, and keep me safe. Sadly, though, for many months, people doubted and threatened me, which made me feel unsafe. 

I put my trust in people who I thought would protect me, but instead, they failed me. I quickly learned that I was fighting a broken legal system, and the people who needed to believe my story never would. 

Two years ago, I began sharing my sexual assault story publicly and began fighting for survivors’ rights. No survivor should endure the trauma I did when they seek help.

No survivor should feel like no one’s protecting them.

Each state has different rights for sexual assault survivors. Some states have more thorough SA rights than others. But every state should have the same rights for survivors so that every survivor receives equal access to help and protection.

Here are a few rights that I didn’t have — but that all sexual assault survivors deserve:

1. The Right to a Victim Advocate 

Having a victim advocate present to support survivors and to explain legal terms and rights is crucial for survivors. When I came forward, no one offered me a victim advocate, but authorities still forced me to give statements to many agencies. I went through this process completely alone, gave my statements in an empty room, and never had anyone explain legal processes to me. This caused me lots of anxiety, self-doubt, and confusion. The authorities made me relive the worst days of my life over and over, and then they doubted me. Having an advocate would’ve caused me less trauma and loneliness.

2. The Right to Be Notified About Your Case 

This right allows survivors regular updates on their cases. I wish I had this right because when someone bailed my abuser out of jail before trial, no one notified me. When officers granted him an early release, I again had to learn this information on my own — in the scariest way possible. I still have to fight to make sure that I’m safe from my abuser. Survivors need to learn what’s happening with their cases and know where their abusers are so that they can feel safe.

3. The Right to Protection 

This right allows survivors protection from their abusers. This right guarantees that a survivor can file an order of protection, which means that the abuser can’t have contact with the victim, and the victim’s name is protected. 

After my abuser bailed out of jail, he hired private investigators to find me. The investigators showed up at my house, my job, and my school and even reached out to my family and friends for information about me. However, the court denied me an order of protection multiple times because I moved out of state. According to authorities, my move meant that I had to give up my survivors’ rights, including the right to an order of protection. Securing orders of protection for all survivors means that they wouldn’t face the severe bullying, threats, and harassment that I did after I came forward.

4. The Right to Be Notified of Your Rape Kit’s Status 

This right allows for survivors to hear their rape kit results promptly and for authorities to inform them about any rape kit updates as they happen. Many states’ rape kit tracking systems are out-of-date, putting them years behind on testing kits. This means that countless survivors’ rape kits will never complete the testing process. Survivors need quick rape kit testing because without results, survivors may spend years battling the legal system and never get justice.

These are just a few of the many rights that I fight for as a sexual assault survivor whom the legal system failed. No one else should be repeatedly victimized and traumatized like I was. States need to universally implement these survivors’ rights because victims deserve justice, and they should never have fewer rights than their abusers.

Featured Photo by Derick Daily on Unsplash.

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